MIAMI SHORES, Fla.—The Dominican tradition of service is one of the core values of a Barry University education and the Buccaneer softball team has long been a shining example of it in the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. Softball players and teams have won the Sister Jeanne O’Laughlin Service award eight times in the award’s 22-year history.
This fall, the Bucs have participated in a number of service projects including Susan G Komen Race for the Cure at Bayfront, Miami Shores Athletic Village, Light the Night Leukemia Walk at Bayfront and the Barry University Thanksgiving Food/Clothing Drive. The process is an important part of a Barry education, according to head coach Danielle Penner.
“Community service, one of the many ways in which we apply the Barry University mission and core commitments, offers our softball student-athletes the opportunity to simultaneously help others who are less fortunate and appreciate their own blessings,” Penner said. “It is an invaluable experience for the students and benefits the community greatly.”
The team, including junior first baseman Julie Brito, has embraced the process.
“After seeing my whole team come together to be able to make a difference in important events, I have realized how extremely rewarding it is to be able to volunteer,” Brito said. “Events such as the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Walk and the Light the Night for Leukemia Walk are a way of strengthening our community and showing people that they are not alone in their fight. Volunteering in these two events has also given us a chance to return to society some of the benefits we’ve been given. These two foundations have helped give hope to millions of people who have been affected in some way by breast cancer or leukemia, and knowing that we have helped in events that can change a person's life, as well as knowing that people have been positively impacted by our participation is beyond a gratifying experience.”
The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure® Series is the largest series of 5K runs/fitness walks in the world. Over the past 18 years, the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale community has raised millions of dollars to fund the fight against breast cancer through the Komen Race for the Cure. Over 100,000 people have participated in the 5K walk and run, One Mile Fun Walk and Tot Run since the first Miami/Ft. Lauderdale Komen Race for the Cure in 1995.
“Being part of the Susan G Komen Race for the Cure was a great experience for me,” senior pitcher Camille Czarnecki said. “As I walked into the race, I could feel the emotion from volunteers and survivors. It was a great way for us to come together and show support for the community. When I was younger, I never truly knew what it was like to see individuals fight for their life or support a cause, but that all changed when I learned my aunt was battling breast cancer. As an international student away from home, I was unable to be with my aunt through a critical time in her life. Thankfully she is now cancer free and healthier than ever. This was my opportunity to show other strong women who I look up to that we, the Barry University softball team, are 100 percent behind them.”
“Seeing all of the supporters and survivors raising awareness really motivated me to always lend out a helping hand when needed,” freshman Nicole Szelest said.
Light the Night Walk is The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's walk to build awareness of blood cancers as well as raise money for research and support of patients and their families. It is held in over 200 communities in North America each fall as well as in Australia. Walkers carry illuminated balloons or lanterns of different colors. White balloons are carried by survivors, red by supporters, and gold balloons are carried by those walking in memory of a loved one they lost. Funds raised by participants support the Society's mission: cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's lymphoma and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families.
“Being able to volunteer for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society was a very rewarding experience for our team,” sophomore outfielder Megan Copeland said. “Barry provides us with an awesome opportunity to be able to give back to the community and we are very fortunate to be in a position to spend time contributing to such a worthy cause.”
For some of the players, the experience hit even closer to home.
“It was a great experience giving back to the community and it really hit home knowing someone personally who has lymphoma,” Szelest said.
The Thanksgiving Food/Clothing Drive was coordinated through Barry University’s Center for Community Service Initiatives & the Campus Ministry.
“Being able to give to others during the holiday season is such a blessing,” senior pitcher Britany Pugh said. “I am grateful to have enough to be able to share with others that are less fortunate. I believe everyone should have a happy holiday season and I'm glad my team and I got to contribute to the less fortunate.”